Time wasters in business are bumping into you all day long disrupting not only your productivity but your peace of mind. One of the most pervasive is interruptions.

I bet you aren’t surprised that Dovico Management, a timesheet company, found an executive is interrupted every 8 minutes. With the average interruption taking 5 minutes, totaling about 4 hours or 50 percent of the average workday! According to Gloria Mark, at the University of California, Irvine, it takes a little under 25 minutes recovery time to bring your attention back on track after an interruption.

Most suck your time, produce little benefit or results despite all your efforts. With 80 percent of your interruptions rated as low value, they’re a big deal. Here are some overcoming tactics to mitigate the unproductive work obstructions and stress you experience.

  • Be Proactive: Intentionally schedule buffer time for interruptions because you know they’re coming. You’ll find them less frustrating when you allocate a bit of breathing room for the unscheduled, someone else’s emergency smashing into your workday.
  • Educate Your Team: Develop a talk to file for each person you have multiple dealings with regularly. Coach them to hold their questions until a scheduled meeting—unless it’s a critical must-do-it-now situation. You’ll quickly learn who has a handle on what is urgent and what isn’t. If someone is bursting at the seams with the a-must-know-now question (but it isn’t!), you have an opportunity to mentor self-sufficiency into those collaborating with you. And don’t forget to role model such behavior yourself by holding less critical issues until scheduled meetings, so you’re not cutting into their day with trivial matters as well.
  • Brain Distracters: Modern day companies are rife with interruptions. Just think about the consistent ding announcing yet another email delivered to your inbox, or the open-space offices challenging employees to concentrate amid the noisy chaos, or the Smartphone, which research confirms you pick it up at every 12 minutes, or well, you get the picture. Take charge by designing counter-active measures because all this distraction is causing a 10-point drop to your I.Q because your brain can’t handle it!

If these are the only type interruptions you address, you’re missing the most crucial factor—all disturbances are not alike.

There’s a whole other side relating to concentration breaks demanding your attention. Yes, almost everything you read regarding disruptions centers on the negative as though there’s nothing good emerging out of it. The reality is interruptions often are a warning signal pointing the way to process improvements or at a minimum, specific aspects of your job demanding a fix.

With awareness of this whole new perspective, you now have an opportunity to upgrade your day by:

    • Designing an interruption log where you record every disruption you encounter.
    • Recognizing interruptions are often nothing more than process-breakdowns in disguise.
    • Categorizing repetitive, interruption patterns stealing your time to design overcoming tactics.
    • Responding as you would any other system interfering with work processes because that’s what they are.
    • Testing out effective solutions with an improvement frame-of-mind.
    • Introducing any applicable changes to see if they’re workable for everyone and also resolve your concerns.

Considering and then, implementing some of these recommendations may sound time-consuming. Remember, once you overcome one challenging interruption, you will be resolving the issue long-term. Rather than being steamed over what appears to be uncontrollable, put your creative brain to coming up with one interruption improvement game plan after another. Then, revel in the gift of the hours you’ll be saving every day!


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